HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland said on Monday it had become impossible to return asylum seekers who do not meet protection criteria and said it may impose further restrictions on the entry of migrants from Russia after a jump in the number of applicants.
More than 500 asylum seekers, mostly from Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iraq, have arrived in Finland – an eastern EU base – via Russia in the past two weeks, prompting Helsinki to close half its border crossings and accusing Moscow of funneling migrants to Europe. Its limits. Moscow denies this charge.
“Deporting migrants who do not meet the asylum criteria has become impossible, so entering the border means staying in that country if you want,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said during a state visit to Poland.
Niinistö called for finding a solution at the European Union level to stop uncontrolled entry into the European passport-free Schengen area.
“It is impossible for each country to try on its own to deal with a situation that might erupt in a neighboring country immediately afterwards,” Niinisto said.
Migrants entering Finland from Russia can now only seek asylum at two of the four remaining crossing points on their shared 1,340-kilometre (830-mile) border.
Finnish Prime Minister Petri Orbo said his government would take further measures if necessary, but declined to say whether it would close all remaining crossings on the border with Russia.
“The main thing is that we are firm… If there is no change in the situation, we will take further measures quickly,” Orbo said during a visit to the Vartius crossing, which is still open about 700 kilometers north of the capital. helsinki,
Tommy Kivinjori, head of the Finnish Border Guard’s legal department, said that all those who arrived did not originally want to come to Finland, but were forced to seek asylum after Russian authorities closed the border gates behind them.
“They had no other choice in this situation,” Kivenjouri told Reuters.
The Kremlin said on Monday that it had lodged an official protest against the partial border closure, saying that the decision reflects an anti-Russian stance.
In 2021, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia accused Belarus, a close Moscow ally, of artificially creating a migrant crisis on their borders by airlifting people from the Middle East and Africa and trying to push them across the border – an accusation that Belarus has repeatedly denied.
(Reporting by Issi Lehto in Helsinki – Preparing by Muhammad for the Arabic Bulletin) Additional reporting by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Foch in Oslo and Anna Ringström in Stockholm; Edited by Jonathan Oatis and Gareth Jones
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